ADHD & Deadlines: The Neurodivergent Adult Struggle

Some people with ADHD can struggle with meeting deadlines and completing tasks on time. What’s the reason behind this trait, and how can we overcome it?

Table of Contents

ADHD & Deadlines: The Neurodivergent Adult Struggle

1. Procrastination and "Last Minute" Habit

2. Difficulty in Paying Attention and Remembering Deadlines

3. Adult ADHD and Completing Tasks

4. ADHD Deadlines and How To Manage Time Wisely

ADHD & Deadlines FAQs

ADHD & Deadlines

Have you ever wondered why you struggle with paperwork or tasks, particularly those with due dates and deadlines? 🥺 You see, having ADHD can sometimes make it challenging for us to manage our schedule. This may be due to our difficulty in perceiving time correctly. Factors, like our lack of focus and tendency to procrastinate, can also affect our perception of time and make us miss deadlines. 

The fear of deadlines can be paralyzing for some people with ADHD. 😨 The pressure to complete a task within a specific period  can make it difficult to focus on the work at hand. On top of the possible impaired sense of time (which can lead to taking frequent breaks), some people with ADHD may also have a hard time dealing with distractions

Let us try to understand the factors that affect how we handle deadlines and what we can do to keep our tasks on track. Remember that we aren't here to provide medical advice but instead talk about ADHD for informational and educational purposes only.

Deadlines can be quite challenging for ADHD brains

Procrastination and "Last Minute" Habit

Many people with ADHD set deadlines for their tasks and try as much as they can to beat them. So, what happens along the way? Why do we still miss these deadlines? 

The first possible reason, as mentioned earlier, is our different way of sensing time. We tend to slow down a little bit because we think we have more time for the task's completion.  😅  And when the deadline comes nearer and nearer to the last minute, we start feeling overwhelmed and try to finish everything all at once. Though we may have finished the task and met the deadline, this practice is exhausting. 😭

Then, there’s procrastination, the act of putting off a task until later. Did you know that ADHD symptoms in adults can make them more likely to procrastinate? Procrastination can also make it challenging to meet deadlines and accomplish our assigned projects easily. This habit can be very frustrating because it often means that we don't get things done on time, and our desired output may not be how we picture it to be. 

Many people with ADHD can struggle with procrastination. However, we cannot entirely attribute procrastination to our ADHD brain, because sometimes, it is our urge to move or do something else that makes us procrastinate. People may think that we are “lazy” and “unmotivated,” but in reality, we are just trying to get rid of the distractions first before we can focus on the task at hand. 💪

we can struggle to plan ahead

Difficulty in Paying Attention and Remembering Deadlines

Many adults with ADHD are sometimes forgetful and have difficulties remembering dates or deadlines. This might be because our brains are constantly trying to process a lot of information at once, and it's hard to focus on just one thing. 😵 This difficulty can also make it hard for us to be attentive. The thing is, we often need attention to details to remember important dates or deadlines.

Aside from our difficulty to remember important dates and schedules, don’t forget that we may perceive time differently. That is why planning ahead can sometimes be a challenge for us. We can experience "time-blindness" because we have a hard time processing the concept of time from start to finish. For this reason, some adults with ADHD are prone to being late when meeting with someone or submitting a task.

as we tend to perceive time differently

Adult ADHD and Completing Tasks

Some people with ADHD may have a hard time staying focused, especially on tasks that involve daily routines. Concentrating on tasks and accomplishing them can already be an ADHD struggle; what more if we make them time-bound by adding deadlines? 

Tasks with deadlines may be even more challenging. After all, many adults with ADHD have difficulty in time organization and handling schedules. Moreover, multi-tasking, which is a common hurdle for some adults with ADHD, can further complicate accomplishing tasks on time.

Our struggle in finding something more interesting might also prevent us from completing tasks immediately. We may be prone to distractions and impulsivity, which can affect our ability to finish our tasks first before moving on to the next activity. 

Since missing deadlines and having difficulty completing tasks are some of the common problems that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder face, it's essential to manage time effectively.  👌

We can prioritize important things and focus on them before moving to the next task. Instead of multitasking, try to focus on one project at a time to make it easier for us to finish our tasks efficiently. 💪

and we can end up rushing to meet deadlines at the last minute

ADHD Deadlines and How To Manage Time Wisely

a few tips:

The bottom line is a person with ADHD can sometimes go through many struggles. There are a lot of pointers that need to be remembered to be able to succeed in managing ADHD symptoms, including those that affect our ability to complete tasks and meet deadlines. Time management is the key, but having an ADHD brain might make it difficult.

The good news? There are manageable steps to take to lessen the stress and anxiety these deadlines give us. 😉 So, here are some tips to try if you want to have an effective on-time organization:

  • Make a to-do list and mark tasks that have deadlines. This can help you track the task that needs to be done immediately and those that can hold up a little.
  • Try to stay focused on your task, but schedule time to take a break. Sometimes, we tend to do time management and avoid being disturbed. However, we tend to forget that we should also take a break and move around.
  • Divide tasks into smaller pieces and try doing them one at a time. It's easy for us to get overwhelmed by large tasks, which is why dividing those tasks into chunks can help us focus on what we need to accomplish first.
  • Set realistic dates for a deadline. Remember to tell yourself that there are limits to everything, so keeping your deadlines as practical as possible can help you be more productive.
  • Take some time for yourself if you feel overwhelmed with the task. Having ADHD often means our brain tends to process a lot of information at once, causing us to lose track of what we need to do next.
  • Use a calendar app and write all the details needed for easy deadline tracking and date reminders. Using these apps can help improve your productivity. They also reduce the risk of forgetting deadlines.
  • If you have trouble putting all these tips together and anxiety still persists, try spending time outside to relax your ADHD brain. Clear your mind for a bit and think of how much time you'd need to finish your projects.
  • Try to seek help from your parents, family, or friends. Ask for help in finishing massive projects. Putting yourself under all the pressure can make you struggle even more.
  • Gradually increase your task or project. Never take anything more than what you can handle, so start small, then just increase gradually. 
  • Be kind to your mental health. Try not to stress too much while avoiding procrastination. If needed, talk to a mental health expert regarding your experiences on ADHD and accomplishing set deadlines. It can also help to talk at least to your family and friends.
  • Track progress and have a habit of writing down accomplishments. This can help you move forward to another related task. 
  • As much as possible, avoid taking the same time-bound project repeatedly. Stress may build up if you continue getting the same tasks.
  • Write down your strengths and weaknesses. Track your advantages or disadvantages. Let your capabilities lead and guide your pace. It can be easy to complete your tasks if you are interested in doing them.
  • Be patient with yourself and give yourself a chance to improve.
  • Take your time and pace your tasks for better results. Enjoy life and don't stress too much.

Try to understand that no matter how hard you try, if your task is about anything you are uninterested in, it can be a struggle doing them. It is important for many people with ADHD to bring sense to their time awareness capabilities. The ability to lead themselves with proper time management can help them become successful in making the right choices in life.

ADHD and Deadlines: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

 

1.  My sense of time management isn't that good and not that bad either. I submit my projects days ahead of time and I am not afraid of deadlines. Is it possible that I no longer have ADHD?


It is possible that you have developed a coping mechanism with regards to being late or submitting projects ahead of time. But also, it is possible that you are “masking” your ADHD traits in order to avoid judgment. It would be best to consult with a mental health expert for proper evaluation and diagnosis.


2. Is it possible to improve my time management skills?


Yes, it is definitely possible to improve your time management skills. Practicing good organizational skills and setting realistic goals can help you be more productive and efficient. Also, tracking your progress and making a habit of writing down accomplishments can help you be more aware of how far you have advanced with regard to each task. You can also try taking small steps instead of tackling massive projects all at once in order to prevent burnout or stress.

3. Does ADHD impair my ability to focus on my tasks or projects?


ADHD can make it difficult for you to focus and concentrate on your tasks. This is due to the fact that some people with ADHD tend to be easily distracted by other things in their environment. You may find it helpful to use a calendar app or any other reminder tools in order to stay in focus and finish your tasks efficiently.

Table of Contents

ADHD & Deadlines: The Neurodivergent Adult Struggle

1. Procrastination and "Last Minute" Habit

2. Difficulty in Paying Attention and Remembering Deadlines

3. Adult ADHD and Completing Tasks

4. ADHD Deadlines and How To Manage Time Wisely

ADHD & Deadlines FAQs

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. If you are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, it’s best to see a professional for a diagnosis.

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